A high employee turnover rate is costly for any company, and employee retention is a key goal for nearly every manager. Chirs Harrington, Director of Operations at Elastic Therapy, Inc. in Asheboro, N.C., has found a model to not only reduce turnover, but also ensure a steady flow of skilled workers. The company has been employing and training youth apprentices through Apprenticeship Randolph for four years.
Elastic Therapy makes medical compression socks, stockings, and sleeves that are used by medical product companies all over the world. The process requires employees who can operate and maintain complex machinery. Chris recently shared how the apprenticeship program has helped his company build and retain the skilled workforce it needs.
A Good Match Equals High Retention
Elastic Therapy participates in Apprenticeship Randolph’s comprehensive screening program that is designed to create a strong match between the company’s needs and the apprentice’s interests and abilities.
“Research shows that 70 to 80% of people that start apprenticeship programs finish, and of those that complete the program, 90% are with the same company five years later,” says Chris. He notes that those are strong employee retention numbers.
“Our recruiting and selection process includes an orientation that allows us to spend time with candidates over four different nights in activities and interviews. By the end of that time, we are able to make a good list of students we want to recruit,” says Chris.
Once a student is selected by a company, they complete a 6-week pre-apprenticeship over the summer before signing on as an apprentice. “It is truly a trial period. It’s about making sure it is a good fit for both of us,” says Chris.
Support for Your Company
Chris notes that the support employers receive from ApprenticeshipNC and Apprenticeship Randolph coordinators and other companies in the program has been extremely helpful.
“One of the misconceptions that many companies have is that administration of the program can be overbearing,” says Chris. “The ApprenticeshipNC and Apprenticeship Randolph coordinators are helpful in supporting program development and guiding your company through the registration process.
“The biggest advantage is you are not alone in this program,” says Chris. “You get to know other like-minded business people and learn from them.”
Read more about local companies partnering with Apprenticeship Randolph.
Investing in a Collective Future
Elastic Therapy began apprenticeship in 2016 and currently has eight apprentices. They are working as medical knitting technicians, learning how to inspect compression products to identify defects, operate the machinery, set up equipment, and troubleshoot the process and the equipment. In addition to learning on the job, apprentices take classes at Randolph Community College to gain technical skills needed for the work.
“I like the fact that we are building skills in the community,” says Chris. “This is true collaboration between businesses, the community college, and the K-12 schools to engage in workforce development.”
Chris says apprenticeship has also impacted his current employees. “Our team has been very positive about apprenticeship because they want to grow the next generation of technicians. Mentors like the idea that we are investing in our collective future as a company.”